If you need to know what’s going on at all times, this one is for you. Keep up with your realtor and stay on top of your rental process with this inside view! I recommend reading the Top 10 Commandments for Renting in Miami-Dade before continuing.
1. Establish your search criteria
Aside from obvious filters such as price, area, and bedrooms, the following criteria will make your (or your realtor’s) search easier:
-Number of Parking Spots (Guest Parking available?)
-Restrictions on commercial vehicles
-Any other else you deem important
Keep in mind you will likely not get everything you want, specially with lower budgets. You might score an in-unit washer and dryer but only get one parking spot, having to park the other car in guest. Or you might get two spots and in-unit washer and dryer, but the building might have no amenities. Select one or two “deal breakers” and move forward.
2. View Properties
At this point you or your agent have selected the potential candidates. Keep these things in mind when viewing your prospects:
-Bring all the decision makers to the showing, its possible you might only see the unit once.
-If you are interested, in a rush, or competition is fierce, ask the listing agent for the application before hand and complete it before the showing, giving you a boost over the other applicants.
-Check the date of the air conditioning and water heater, inquire about their performance and latest maintenance.
-Check on the roofs and walls for signs of mold or water damage.
-Try to get a look at your potential neighbors.
-Bring a tape measure to asses the dimensions in relation to your furniture.
-Inquire about move in costs, association fees, parking spaces, restrictions, amenities, included services and any other factors you deem necessary.
3. Make a decision/offer
Miami rentals move fast, specially for a good bargain. Try to decide quickly, or someone else will take it. When you do, submit the offer according to the exact instructions. Allow two to three business days for the listing agent and owner to review your offer and respond.
4. Sign Contract
If your offer is accepted, congratulations! Now its time to sign the Residential Lease contract. This can be sent to you electronically or they may ask you sign in person. Before signing, they might ask for a month’s worth of security deposit along with a background check fee.
It is important to work with an agent as the contract has many clauses that can be confusing to a non-real estate professional. An agent will ensure you are protected in the contract against unreasonable terms.
Lease contracts are mostly the same approved format from the Florida Supreme Court, the listing agent just fills in the blanks. Read those sections carefully. Check out the article on the Florida Residential Lease Contract for an in-depth explanation.
Always look after yourself, but don’t think everything is negotiable. Many rental units have numerous offers and owners won’t waste time if you are only willing to cover $150 in maintenance versus the $250 they might ask, specially if dealing with a management company, those could be standard requirements for all their units and tenants.
5. Applying to the Association
Even having a contract and owner approval, if the unit is governed by a condo or homeowners association, they must also approve before you move in. Don’t worry, if the owner did his due diligence and you have no criminal record this is a near certainty.
If you are working alone, you will have to fill and submit the application to the association. Otherwise, your agent will help you and might turn it in for you. Be truthful and precise in your entries. While many associations are excellent, some in Miami are notorious for not answering the phone, being super picky, and taking 2-4 weeks to approve. Be patient!
6. Receive Approval & Schedule Walk Through
They will promptly inform you once you are accepted. Make sure to request via an email or official approval letter as proof. Many associations will then require you to schedule a move in date. Some may call you for an interview to explain the rules and provide the entry cards and parking decals.
Inform the listing agent of your approval. He/she will tell you the balance due at the walk through (the remaining deposit/last month plus the first month). If your contract was written for the 1st but you where approved on the 7th, ask the listing agent to discount the days you weren’t there, or to credit them for next month.
Follow his/her instructions regarding who to write the checks/money orders to.
Don’t present yourself at the walk through without the money or they will turn you back!
7. Perform The Walk Through
The walk through records any defects or pending repairs in the property. Call the listing agent or owner and ensure the property is clean and ready for move in.
The listing agent should have a walk through sheet in which all pending repairs or previous damages are recorded. This will serve as evidence if the landlord makes a claim against your deposit on something you didn’t do. Be sure to ask for a copy of the walk through.
Additionally, it’s wise to take pictures of the entire unit and send them to the listing agent or owner along with the description of all the wear and tear you found. Keep a copy of this email, this can later protect you in the event of an unfounded deposit claim.
After the walk through, you will hand the agent the money and he/she will hand you the keys.
Be sure to safely secure a copy of your lease contract and association approval.
Now you have to connect FPL and water and sewer (if applicable) to your name before the owner cuts them.
At this point you are officially rented and ready to live it out the unit. Plan your furniture move, set up your cable and internet, pay on time and enjoy your new place!
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